Up until today, Andrey Amador (Movistar) was mostly known for the accident he had on his last training ride of the year 2010 at the end of December in his country. Now he has become the first cyclist from Costa Rica to win a stage in a grand tour, as he beat Czech Jan Barta and Italy’s Alessandro De Marchi at the top of Cervinia, two days after finishing third in Sestri Levante behind Lars Bak and Sandy Casar at the Giro d'Italia.
He was mugged while training and believed that the offenders were only interested in stealing his bike, so he tried to run away from them. But they stabbed him till he became unconscious and he was left for dead for six hours next to a river. He still had his phone in his pocket when he regained consciousness and called his family to get a ride back home. A kidney was paralyzed and his lungs were affected and it took him several months to recover. He managed to get back in the saddle in time for his debut at the 2011 Tour de France but rode with an injured ankle. In his first pro season with Caisse d’Epargne in 2009 he broke a collarbone on the last day of Paris-Nice.
“This year for the first time, my preparation for the Giro has been excellent,” Amador said in a press conference after stage 14. “I had a good calendar of races. I’ve changed my training methods and it works well. Our team Movistar is doing very well at the Giro - we already have two stage wins [with Francisco Ventoso at Frosinone] and we are highly placed on GC [with Benat Intxausti seventh at 1.07]. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the team members, my girlfriend Laura, my family and all the people who support me for their great help. I’ve had a hard time with this famous accident but the whole Movistar team has been affected by the dramatic accident of Juan Mauricio Soler and the tragic death of Xavi Tondo. This stage win is for everyone who suffered during these difficult times.”
Amador took up cycling at the age of 12 when he bought a mountain bike. He was advised by his compatriot José Adrian Bonilla who rode for Kelme to go and try his luck in Spain. “Cycling isn’t a very popular sport in my country,” he said. “Costa Rica is a small country with 5 million people but the Giro d’Italia is known there, so is the Tour de France, especially since I took part in it. It has had a big impact on social networks. My family didn’t know anything about cycling and computers but now they’re like Bill Gates - constantly connected to the internet to follow me at races.”
His second name Bikkazakova, as well as his first name Andrey, comes from his Russian mother. “I also have a Spanish grand-father”, he said. “So my blood is 25% Spanish, 25% Costa Rican and 50% Russian but I feel totally Costa Rican. My skin color shows where I’m from.”
With the first Canadian to wear the pink jersey back in the lead (Ryder Hesjedal), the first Costa Rican to win a stage at a Grand Tour gives the 2012 Giro d’Italia even more of an international flavor.